Carb Reloading

Guest post written by: Sarah Strange



Time for a reload

I’d like to share with you my recent journey out of the low carb maze, which I’ve been more or less stuck in since 2010. My initial launch into Paleo started off like most people’s as a 30 day reset 4 years ago. I fell for Robb’s used car salesman pitch and gave it a shot. I felt so great and I liked it so much that it’s still going on today and now I even work for the guy! Imagine that!

When I started this whole thing, I consciously decided that I wanted to try no starches or fruit for the 30 days, really only because I found it interesting (thanks Vilhjamur Stefansson) and wanted to see what would happen. I’m curious that way. I was having amazing results at 30 days, so I extended it to 60. Then I planned on reintroducing starches and fruit, and including them regularly from then on forward. I tried… but it didn’t go so well. I was a little surprised.

(I wish I was smart enough to turn that “and then I got high” song into something that would cleverly explain what I was going through every time I tried to bring the carbs back in, but I know my talents and rappin’ ain’t one.)

Basically, trying to eat modest, normal amounts of fruits and starches sucked for me. It seemed to reverse all of the joy and warm fuzzy feelings from my initial Paleo high. I’d experience a whole grab bag of symptoms: joint inflammation (I have some creaky worn out business from all the ballet and hypermobility plus carpal tunnel), 5lb’s of instant water retention, wicked PMS… and I mean every symptom there was, aaand weight gain- which was always hard to gauge with the stupid water retention, but when I’d return to low carb and shed the water there was some undeniable extra weight. I wasn’t in freak out mode about it I just thought, “Boy, carbs F’ing suck!”

At the time, it was still cool to think “carbs F’ing suck” because insulin was still taking all the flack in the blogosphere. Then, as things always seem to do, the paradigm got more layered and complex. Calories started making people fat again with lots of eye rolling and arguing, and low carb started to fall under closer scrutiny. In my eyes low carb and ketosis are still great, but as a therapeutic treatment for those that need it or as part of a PHASE of weight loss or tweaking your endurance fuels. For the rest of us that are healthy and don’t live in the pre-civilized Yukon; it’s a no-be-there and has the potential to get you stuck in a funky rut.

I say this because I got stuck in such a rut myself. I didn’t need to go Eskimo Paleo to begin with, but I did, and now it seemed like I had to stay there because to my body, and for the first time in my life, carbs officially messed me up.

For my whole life up until I went Paleo, I hadn’t been eating enough protein and I had been really high-carb. Wheat carbs and booze carbs. I didn’t have any overt blood sugar regulation problems or any symptoms of metabolic syndrome. I looked healthy enough- I just knew I could be doing better and that if I didn’t make some changes, it was going to start catching up to me. You know that general sense of foreboding that slowly creeps on once you turn 30 that you can’t just keep burning the candle at both ends? That was happening.

The wealth of information demonstrating that carbs aren’t the problem in healthy individuals made sense to me. I had a number of clients who had unintentionally been under the impression that their 4 cups of romaine lettuce and handful of nuts counted as lots of carbs, some of whom were unintentionally following a ketogenic diet by eating this way in addition to more moderate protein intakes.

There also seems to be a glut of innocents out there trying to make it through CrossFit Games prep programming on 1, 9oz sweet potato and a scoop of whey protein! Whoever programs these cycles should be obligated to post some sort of Paleo starch currency as the buy-out component at the end of each workout. “Bro’s and Bro’ettes, this bad boy right here, is gonna cost you 3.75#’s of Japanese yams.”images

Needless to say, especially for the people training to be Superheroes, having them add in a LOT more carbohydrate practically gave them their Red Bull wings overnight. The regular folks in accidental ketosis just generally felt “Wow! So much better! I’m losing weight again!” But for some damn reason, my body seemed incapable of implementing my own advice. I wasn’t asking for a pint of Coconut Bliss washed down with a 4 pack of Crispins here, just a freakin sweet potato and maybe a banana after dinner.

I remember tinkering with Carbnite and Carb Backloading. I felt like absolute dogshit. I played with it for a while and figured I needed to dial the carbs down until I stopped feeling achy, inflamed, bloated, “fat”, lethargic and foggy. The only successful Carbnite I could handle was basically having 5th Fry Fridays. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the good Kiefer intended. The more I went for the recommended insulin spiking carbs, even Paleo-permitted, the worse I felt. I was a sad panda; a sad, bloated, fat gaining, water retaining, joint creaking, high maintenance panda.

I know I’m not alone; I’ve met a number of low carbers that fall into this mysterious group of many that just “don’t do well with carbs”. How’d we get to be mysterious? We’re not diabetic. No symptoms of metabolic syndrome or other such maladies. We’re actually pretty healthy… we’ve just been low-carb for so long that we no longer play well with fruits and starches. We read the blogs, the readable research, we know what’s up; we just can’t seem to make it work for us so we stay where we are. If we want to loose a little weight or have some sort of cocktail dress or poolside function coming up, our only option is to not go near a carb for a week. You know who you are. We sound ridiculous to our boyfriends explaining that carbs make us “puffy”.

The biggest bummer for me was that I wasn’t feeling so great anymore stuck on the low carb Paleo station wagon. It would be one thing if I continued to feel amazing, but I didn’t. I was COLD and my carb-experimental weight gain stuck around and wasn’t responding to the usual tricks. My energy levels weren’t great. My brain felt like it was “buffering” half the time. My thyroid was probably flipping me the bird.

So what’s a gal to do? I had decided to try a few months straight in ketosis (of course) to see if that made any difference. It didn’t. The only inexplicable fun part was the weird brain nirvana on days 4-6 of keto-adapting, otherwise I was starving all the time whether my calorie intake was 3500 or 1500, which I found bizarre and suspected the lowered protein intake. I started tracking my macros and measuring my blood ketones because I found it hard to stay in ketosis without doing so. I didn’t gain weight or lose weight. I played around with lowering my calories the last month and no response. After 2 months, I gave up on ketosis because it just seemed like the same old shtick topped off with a mean old appetite. I kind of felt deflated and rejected at both ends.

I caught a big glimmer of hope when the news of people’s success with resistant starch started to build steam. I figured my gut bacteria population was probably pathetic. I had high hopes for the potato starch being my ticket off the stationary wagon, but it wasn’t. At least it didn’t seem to be. Maybe it’s because I can’t handle enough of it without feeling like I could power a small town on my own methane emissions. I’ve been supplementing for 3 months and I still can’t tolerate more than 1 TBSP a day without rendering my home a hypoxic zone.

I added carbs and monitored my blood sugar. I went from 20g of carbs in ketosis to 50g out. It was a typical mess. The only thing that felt better was my energy during my workouts, which are pretty mild: 4 minutes of intervals 4 times a week plus 3-4 days of weightlifting. I have no big dreams of winning anything. I had some blood glucose strips that came with my ketone/blood sugar meter so I figured what the heck, lets see how it’s doing. My blood sugar in ketosis was in the low 80’s and once I had a “moment” with banana chips and my blood sugar only went up to 95 1 hour post- it was back to the low 80’s within the next hour.

Out of ketosis, on 50g of carbs, my fasting blood glucose was averaging 115. Ok, so I got a little post-ketosis, low carb insulin resistance and no big post meal spikes worth worrying about. Google said rats were back to normal blood sugar control in a week. I took 3 weeks: so much for rats. One day it just finally started to fall, right around the 3-week mark, and then within 4 days it was back to the 80’s. Once my fasting blood glucose started to fall, my carb symptoms from Hades started to fade.methane

50g still wasn’t really where I wanted to be so I started playing around with more carbohydrate; I ratcheted up to 75g, with the symptoms popping up as expected: FML.

This is why I don’t think the modest amount of fart fuel (potato starch) I’ve been consuming has yet to have an effect. I was on it throughout ketosis and through the reintroduction and re-upping with no noticeable effects, other than the amazing gas, of course.

Right around this time, I discovered Dr Layne Norton, whose life’s work I’m going to paraphrase in 2 sentences. The gist of it is something he calls “reverse dieting” where he adds back 2-5% of calories from carbs and fats per week over a long period of time, say one year, to recover his clients’ metabolisms from the depths of contest prep dieting. He tries to get them to tolerate as much carbohydrate as possible during the off season without gaining much more body fat than 5 pounds- and some of his clients lose weight during the reverse diet. He claims that going too fast with adding back carbs and calories, and trying to diet too many times a year leads to a higher body fat set point. Ok, that was 3 sentences. Anyway, I said WTF I’ll try it.

I added 10g a week and went from 75g of carbs to 125g over the course of 5 weeks with ZERO symptoms. Oh, and I lost 6 pounds or so. I’ve had my first few symptom free periods with carbs in God knows how long, Hallelujah! (sorry dudes). Whenever I added carbs at the beginning of the week, my FBG would go up a little bit, but within 4 days it would be back in the low 80’s. I can eat any kind of carb I like now, Keifer carbs or diesel sweet potato and I don’t get any reactions as long as they’re within my gram setting for the week. I went to Nopalito in San Francisco and gorged on homemade hand ground organic masa chips, and I was totally fine!! This is night and day for me- normally this would have caused an explosion of inflammation. I ain’t afraid a no carbs!

(Just in case you’re wondering if I had ever tried adding carbs back in and sticking it out long enough for my body to adapt: yes I have. The longest I endured was a phase of 3 months, which was awful. It was just regular old “eating carbs” with meals and a fruit here and there, maybe 3 times a week, and the occasional load of something like dates.)


Got my carbs up and my abs up!

So what am I trying to say with all this? I’m saying that for any of you out there struggling to reintroduce carbs and continually hitting the wall, that carefully measured, small incremental increases a week might just set you free. I know about 75 of you out there just had an anger-seizure when you saw the word “measured”.  If you can’t measure, then don’t measure, but I have to say that eye-balling a sweet potato is a lot harder than it seems and I’m not able to say that I would have been able to do this without a food scale. What I need to still see, moving forward, is if I can go back to free-balling it and not have any reactions. I’m not sure if the tolerance at this point just has to do with the meticulous consistency or what. Perhaps this means… to be continued!

Until then, if any of this information helps any of you feel better and get out of the carb free zone, I’ll be happy: lets all be happy and free!


SarahS bio



Sarah is a trainer at Norcal Strength & Conditioning where she heads up the Olympic Weightlifting program. Her athletic and coaching background includes Olympic Weightlifting, CrossFit, Pilates, martial arts, yoga, triathlon, and a pretty long stint as a ballet dancer.


Categories: General, Paleo/Low Carb


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. rs711 says

    No doubt macro’s are big needle-moving tools in nutrition; however approaching every ‘issue’ with them first is reductive and moves too many variables all at once.

  2. Melanie says

    I found this post fascinating, thanks for sharing the story of your efforts. Also you look like a total badass. :)

  3. Jessica says

    Hi Sarah –

    Thank you for sharing this experience! I’m going through something similar, as I’m having a hard time not coming out ‘puffy’ after a high-carb day (I’m carb-cycling in hopes to break a plateau…no luck so far!). I’m tinkering with resistant starch, as well, and can relate to your experience:)

    Just to clarify, you are specifically talking carbs, not calories, correct? Listening to Dr. Norton’s info, he’s actually talking about calories. When you were lower carb, were you always around maintenance calories, only manipulating your macros as you added carbs back in?

    Thank you, again!

    • Jessica says

      Actually, getting into his stuff a bit more, it sounds like he does manipulate macros, too. But I’m still curious to know if you were always around maintenance:)

    • Sarah Strange says

      Hi Jessica, yes- I was holding calories constant while walking the carbs up, otherwise I would expect to gain weight.

  4. Callum says

    I just gotta say, amping up my Carbohydrate intake was the best thing I have ever done.

    My fiance and I traing Coach Sommer’s Foundation and Handstand programming (along side what the Army has me doing) and the improvement was noticeable almost instantly. I even went against the ‘Paleo’ advice and introduced ~30g of carbs through sugar in my intra-workout drink (think of a Gatorade type solution) – and man is it brilliant.

    Some of the best athletic nutrition advice I got was from Dr Bernardot. Google him and buy his book if you are serious about supporting your exercise with nutrition. I had read plenty of other research (including Paleo diet for athletes) but found his to be the best. As a caveat, he advocates a lot higher carbohydrate consumption than most Paleo dieters would be comfortable with – but be smart and understand how his information applies to you.

    Possibly the greatest revelation was understanding blood sugar and mental fatigue – which in a nutshell meant that no matter how loaded your muscles were with Glycogen it means nothing if your blood sugar drops and mental fatigue sets in. And as soon as I started sipping on carbohydrate mix during exercise my fatigue levels dropped away and I began performing (and improving) exactly how I have dreamed of for around 24 months.

    Anyone, just my two cents. Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates. UNDERSTAND what they are, what they do, what your body does with them and what your body needs based on your lifestyle; and then apply it all to your situation.

    *To give those who are reading this (and interested) and point of reference, the F1 and H1 training normally consumes an hour of our time four days per week. I consume 30G of carbohydrate in as high GI form as possible during this hour, then afterwards eat the majority of my remaining carbs for the day in more ‘natural’ form (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc). But I don’t shy away from Carbs outside of the PWO window – I just don’t eat as many.

  5. Stacey says

    I had a stack of pancakes today…they forgot to put in the nuts this time which I like for added fiber and protein..and I have felt awful all day….and I don’t use syrup…only butter.

  6. Anders Emil says

    This was very interesting to read for me. When I initially went lowcarb I had been doing crossfit 2-3 times a week and getting more muscly but without dropping a small tire of fat around my waist. After two months of lowcarb I was down to a fatpercent so small that my gf forcefed me carbs to put on a little as she thought I looked scarily lean (tho I felt great and was actually able to eat a lot of non-starchy carbs without putting on fat again). But then I started to lose sleep. A lot. For a few months I wouldnt be able to get one good nights sleep. Finally after reading some posts online I started to eat a small cold potato just before bedtime and it reliably knocks me out completely for seven hours. I am able to eat lowcarb all day, so long as i just get that one small hit of resistant starch befor bedtime. Curious. However, the small tire around the waist is back, and it doesnt seem to wanna go away with my current cyclic-lowcarb diet (refeeding carbs every weekend). Maybe i should try and gradually increase my carb intake again like you did? Cos I did notice that my carb refeed days do not seem to increase my waist size, in fact it almost has the opposite effect.

  7. Martin says

    Very interesting read!

    Sarah, you briefly mention having carpal tunnel problems. What is in your view the cause of carpal tunnel and how did you fix it?

    • Sarah Strange says

      Adequate vitamin D has been the biggest improvement to my carpal tunnel. Next biggest help has been avoiding too much loaded wrist flexion. It could be possible that I do have some thyroid issues, and that can contribute to Reynaud’s and CT (of which I have both). I do have to say though, granted the sun is coming back which always does help the CT- since my carbs cruised over 100, I have had no sign of Reynaud’s and we just did 2 full days of gymnastics training at Norcal and my wrists are fine, where normally they would have been DESTROYED.

      We’ll see if next fall when the sun disappears again if it comes back!

  8. matthew says

    I get the paleo point of view where add cards on training days, skip on recovery days. What I don’t get is why you get vegans who can eat loads of cards still be low percentage body fat. Robb never talked about this the fat that some vegans can eat a shad load of carbs, but still be lean as hell. What is going on in their body? Does anyone know? btw I am paleo terry to be like 99 percent of the time

  9. says

    Great story. So much of it rang true. I have been Paleo/LC for years. Food sensitivities cropped up. Body comp never met my goals. Recently started eating Perfect Health Diet Carb levels. Food intolerances, gone. Fat loss restarted. Thanks for sharing!

  10. says

    Hi Sarah, love your abs! I’m working on my abs since quite a long time and hope with your advice to get closer to my goal – a real six pack. Thanks for sharing. Romy

  11. says

    This is the second article in as many days that I have read on that seems like it was written for me! RS causes wicked flatulence, can’t shift the bit of fat round the belly and I’m almost scared of carbs! However I don’t react badly to carbs at all so I am now going to try ramping them up a bit more over time.

    One question though – do you suggest slowly increasing carbs on ALL days or just training days?

  12. KZ says

    Sarah, how much fat and protein are you consuming with those carbs for getting and staying lean? Even approximately. Thanks!

    • Sarah Strange says

      140 g protein, and 75-85g fat is where I started. I’d like to keep walking my carbs up and my fat down a little ways closer to 60, maybe. We’ll see. The bigger test is going to be seeing how I do with carbs when I stop counting and go back to the old eyeball method once I have my carbs up higher.

  13. Tom says

    It’s an important voice in all the ongoing discussion about carbs!

    I find one thing intriguing: do we all think that the amazing abs we see in the photo belong to a healthy body? Is there any chance it’s a product of a chronic exercise regime and a calorie restricted diet? Could it then be, that any adverse effects of the low-carb diet were in fact due to the calorie restriction and chronic training?

    • Sarah Strange says

      Tom, I cruised around 2600-3000 calories during low carb and did zero “cardio”, lifted for an hour 3x’s a week for most of it. I did mention in the article that my workouts are pretty mild, but I’ll reiterate- I don’t workout that much. Still think that’s the cause?

      As for you bringing up the popular soap box that if someone has abs, they’re probably malnourished and running themselves into the ground to uphold some unattainable feminine ideal, fear not: I get plenty of hugs.

      There are healthy ways to be lean and unhealthy ways to be lean. There are healthy skinny people and unhealthy skinny people, same for overweight people. There are women of all shapes and sizes, men too, that torture themselves with a warped body image, and those of all sizes that don’t.

      You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

      • Jessica says

        Aahhhhh, Sarah…you beat me to it! This was the reply I was crafting…

        While I don’t know Sarah, my guess is that if she’s working for Robb (who I also can’t claim to know, but ya’ know, he’s smart and stuff), heading up the Olympic Weightlifting Program, she’s rather knowledgeable about healthy and proper training frequency and calorie consumption for her needs. Just sayin’.

        I *think* one of the main points in her article was that she wasn’t feeling her best on low-carb, so she knew it was time to bump them up (being attuned to her body, and all), but adding too many carbs back into her diet at one time was not working for her aesthetically nor physically, bringing on aches and pains. By making small, increasing increments in her carb consumption, she was able to get herself where she wanted to be without puffiness or aches. She mentioned in a reply post to me that her calories remained stable from her low carb eating to her higher carb eating, so it seems as though her body just needed to readjust to higher CARB eating, and she used the incremental adjustments as a tool to make that happen while minimizing any adverse effects from higher carb consumption. She *likely* eats at maintenance calories to maintain a lean figure and keep her energy where it needs to be. We all know that if we eat excess calories over extended periods of time, then we’ll gain weight…my guess is that Sarah knows that, too, and thus keeps her calories in check but not ‘restrictive’ (she also mentioned that she was up to 3500 calories at one point while in ketosis…that doesn’t seem restrictive).

        Also from her article, her training outline, “pretty mild: 4 minutes of intervals 4 times a week plus 3-4 days of weightlifting”. This might seem like a lot to some of us, but she’s a TRAINER, it’s her job, so let’s hope she’s actually training.

        HOWEVER, with all of that in mind, I also think that how a person looks and how his/her muscles respond to training largely depends upon genetics, too. Personally, I’ve been training for years, following myriad programs, some designed specifically for me (one by a RKC Iron Maiden – she must know something about training for muscle and performance) and I eat clean. I have never and can almost guarantee that I will never have the amount of muscle that Sarah has, even if I were to follow her exact program and eating. I am not genetically designed to have much muscle, and I work HARD for every ounce that I am able to maintain.

        Regardless, Sarah looks to be a healthy weight. I’m not worried about her…

      • Barrett says

        I’m puzzled by 140 g protein, and 75-85g fat, but then 2600 to 3000 cals….. I can’t make it add up , please clarify thx

        • Sarah Strange says

          Sorry for the confusion- one question was in regards to my general low carb diet and the 2500-3000 average was in response to that. The other question was in regards to what my macros are now- so those numbers, 140 and 80 refer to when I started tracking and adding carbs back in. Prior to that while experimenting with ketosis I looked at my food for a few weeks without having altered it and found that I was in the 2500-3000 range, WAY WAY higher on fat- one day I still have on record I was at 226g of fat.

  14. Brandy says

    Great article. I’m curious if you decreased your fat intake as you increased your carb intake? My guess is you did since you were tracking calories but would like to know for sure.

    • Sarah Strange says

      I did decrease my fat, but I was also coming out of ketosis, so it’s kind of apples to oranges. It depends on what you’re doing- if you are too low calorie, then you’d add back really really slowly without taking away. If your protein is in that 1 gram per-pound-of-you range, then you add back with carb and fat. If you are consuming a reasonable amount of calories and just looking for maintenance, then you would play with shifting your macronutrient percentages. If you’re low carb, eating enough calories, then likely the shift would be from fat to carb.

  15. Corey says

    I would love to give this a try. I have been paleo/zone for sometime and am not seeing the body composition changes I would like and not seeing the increase in my performance either. If you could clarify a couple things for me…you increase your carbs by 10g each day for the first week then increase from there the same amount each day for a week? I eat around 40-50g of carbs a day currently. You mentioned you held your calories constant while you upped the carbs so where did you cut from? Just fat? A little more clarification would be helpful. Thanks!

    • Sarah Strange says

      No, I increased them for the week- so my daily intake was the same all week, they went up 10 grams from the week before. Each person is different, it depends where you start and how well you respond. The guy that I mentioned in the article has some very detailed videos on how to add back if you’d like some better details and explanation to experiment with.

  16. Irista says

    Finally I have been cruising the web for months to see if someone is as starch and fruit intolerant as I am. I do not have diabetes, I just go crazy when I eat that stuff, any of it, including low sugar fruit or sweet pots or any of it. I am really scared of the pushing of dates and fruit juice as sweeteners. I might work for some or most, but for me it is a disaster. I wonder if it causes my bi-polar 2, or if my bi-polar 2 makes me sensitive to these things. What ever the chicken and egg thing is, yes, I can’t eat no bananas!

    • Irista says

      woops, I have to admit I did not read the whole article before I commented lol, my comment then means nothing!

  17. Norm says

    My questions to both Sarah and Rob,

    For me it makes sense that most of the people will not respond well to carbs after being on low carb for a long period of time but how to interpret this phenomenon? Is this good thing or bad thing? How does adding carbs and becoming tolerant to them over a period of time should be taken:

    1. My metabolism is working well as I can tolerate carbs without gaining weight?
    2. Although I’m tolerating carbs but what would be the long term effects in terms of my insulin sensitivity and other factors? ( for example carbs tend to increase LDL-P and frequent spikes in insulin over the years can make one insulin resistant).
    3. By adding carbs if one gets better glucose tolerance, how it can be good if it is coming by secreting more insulin?

    As an analogy, if you add back nicotine and caffeine they affect the body more but then regular use of them makes you tolerant towards them and now you need more of them to get the same effect which is no good, how far does this apply to adding carbs back?

    • says

      Secreting insulin is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem comes when blood sugar levels are high all the time, sugar is constantly eaten, and insulin levels are chronically high.

  18. Mike says

    Great article! I have been low carb paleo for a while and recently tried Carb Backloading and noticed a marked improvement in how I look. I finally started seeing my abs but now my progress has stalled. I still feel really tired and foggy during the low carb portion of my day especially in the afternoon around 2-5 pm. As soon as I start ingesting carbs during and after my workout I feel great. This makes me believe that I need more carbs during the day. Do you think adding more carbs earlier in the day will help with my afternoon sleepiness? Also, do you believe in the whole “metabolic flexibility” theory that Dr. Jacob Wilson, Ben Pakulski, Charles Poliquin and John Meadows teach that basically says you shouldn’t eat carbs with breakfast or the first part of the day because it will set up your body (hormones, neurotransmitters etc..) to use and burn fat as fuel the rest of the day as opposed to storing fat? Any thoughts or comments would be great.

  19. Tim says

    Thanks for the great insights. After 2 years of Paleo, I’ve still found myself in the “just don’t do well with carbs” group. I have a few questions as I would like to test this protocol out;
    1. How do you test blood sugar in ketosis and what is the range you are looking to acheive?
    2. This may sound retarded, but how do you measure ALL your food? Do you keep a food journal? I mean, if I grab a handful of nuts to chomp on, should I be weighing them and writing it down? And finally, what’s the best place to find the macros for each food? Is there a good website or app that gives a detailed break down or just type it in Google?


    • Scott says

      1) One of the key things is FASTING blood glucose level. This you would measure first thing in the morning before food. There is lots of info online as to what a healthy level is. A glucose monitor with test strips can be bought at most drug stores relatively cheaply. It’s interesting to see how your body reacts after certain foods, stress, sleep patterns, etc.

      If you have issues a journal of some sort will really help you find the patterns. For example, food may not be the issue but a lack of sleep over a few days could lead to a week of high fasted blood sugar.

      2) Depending on how anal you want to be, a scale is the most reliable method. Lots of food measures differently depending on who’s doing the measuring.

      I use an app on my phone called MyFitnessPal – there are lots of others like it out there. They are all free. They also have a nice website which is helpful, but the phone lets me scan barcodes and stuff.. which is surprisingly handy.

  20. says

    I agree with this article, we need carbs in our body it has its health benefits that help our body get into its best shape but of course it should be in proper moderation then pair it up with the right exercise.

  21. Lisa E says

    It sounds like everyone has their heads well wrapped around the fact that we are our own experiments with this, but I wonder if we need to shift from looking for one diet for all time (with variations for training) to a much longer-term process that may begin with ketosis, etc., and morph as physical adaptations happen, with responsiveness to factors like stress (type of training, illness, injury, life stuff…) and age built in. This is a much more dynamic model of nutrition, and reflects how adaptable the body is. Is there such a framework out there?

    I am a pro athlete (aerialist) and train hard but carefully due to a combination of fibromyalgia and CMV. I’m almost 50 and have found that my approach to training/nutrition/sleep can never be static, as much as I’d like it to be. The reduction in inflammation I got from going Paleo several years ago has diminished to the point that I’m pretty much back where I started. Recovery time is such a bummer, even when I feel fabulous with intense training. Body comp isn’t an issue. It’s all about energy and recovery.

    So I’m looking for resources and thoughts about approaching Paleo as a process with a long arc. The start point will vary for us all (I was probably close to Paleo for 20 years) but at some point many factors must equalize for us active, aware, clean eaters.

    Is it time to try increasing carbs? I associate that with lower energy and dread the thought.

  22. James says

    This article may be informative but it’s so badly written as to be unintelligible. Here’s a suggestion; next time you write something, have somebody else read it and work out what the hell you’re talking about. And one other thing; it’s called the world side web, so it would be a good idea if your references made sense no people In places other than just the US.

    • Gaby A. says

      Perhaps if you learned to spell properly (what the hell is world side web) or respond from a computer instead of a phone (your autocorrect on the last sentence makes no sense), we could take your criticism to heart. Most of this site’s audience have mastered the basic rudiments of English grammar and as such, have no problems understanding this article, which seemed quite clear to me.

  23. kiwijack says

    Eager to re-read this article 6 more times. I’ve been 5 months on a low carb high fat diet and most of my issues have resolved but not completely (12 years of chronic dibilitating fatigue ugh!, so I’ve come a long long way in a short time). Since starting this I’ve consistently been in ketosis, <50 g carbs, but now considering increasing between 50-100 g. I have a lot of joint pain and don't feel like I'm recovering as well from workouts, or in general, as the first few months on this diet. It feels like I've taken a step backwards towards fatigue and non-recovery. Perhaps I'm bonking, low on glycogen, and protein is being diverted from tissue repair to gluconeogenisis, or even some catabolism, plus I'm adding back some fat lbs. I exercise moderate to intense 5x/week, short workouts, sprints and weights, plus 1-2 short easy walks. I was previously an ultra runner but now going for the short intense stuff. Recovery with a low carb diet points to issues with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome. It appears we are all a little diabetic or heading in that direction with the standard high carb diet. Since diabetic issues produce damaging elevated glucose, how does one manage the reduction of blood glucose along with finding the carbohydrate intake sweet spot? My fasting blood glucose is currently in the 120 range, so pre-diabetes. I'm considering metformin to reduce glucose but it feels counterproductive to be taking metformin while adding back some carbs. Will the glucose reducing benefits of metformin interfere with glycogen storage? Or should I not go the metformin route, experiment with more carbs, and be more patient? Any comments, tips, ideas?

  24. Greg says

    Great article, well written, very informative, I’m reading it multiple times. You may have solved a serious plateau I’m facing. 3 months of great gains and then plateau and losses, feeling fatigued, flat, sore joints, not recovering, and gaining back some fat. Complete contrast from how this whole ketosis thing began. And not eating any carbs or starch except veg, <50 g carbs. So perhaps it's time to reintroduce some carbs, slowly. I've also read about benefits of cycling carbs. Some of us may be too extreme with ketosis. I'd be interested in a follow up article on lessons learned.

  25. Ben says

    This is a great post.

    I am shocked though as to why so many in the paleo/lc community are still so afraid of carbs and see only what they want to see.

    As a human being, you are able to tolerate whole food carbohydrates. But as you saw in this blog post, you can impair that ability by creating insulin resistance and ruining your bowel flora. (And just because the IR is “physiologic” doesn’t mean its healthy or desirable”). There is absolutely no reason to go low carb. Whole food Carbs do not make you fat, or cause diabetes. It is the intramyocellular lipid that causes the IR..which is what low carb does to your body.

  26. Linda Leighton says

    I really am disappointed in this blog entry…please quit trying to be funny and use layman’s terms….I ended up skipping a lot of it as it just wasn’t working for me…so I move on

  27. Chelsea says

    Sarah –
    I am also curious to know your approach to re-introducing carbs…if you consume carbs throughout the day or take more a carb backloading approach.

    I need to do reverse dieting, as I have been low on carbs and calories. I tried to introduce more carbs while also increasing calories, and I think I went out too fast and furious. I have experienced weight gain (despite still being low on cals), hormonal imbalances persisting, and overall inflammation. What would you suggest moving forward? Drop back down for a short period to reset my body so to speak and then increase more slowly? Maybe you or someone else has been in this boat that can share…

  28. CJ says

    Hi Sarah-

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been measuring my blood sugar and noticed that my FBG is quite high, at 105 – 115. My 1hr postprandial is 130-140, and 2hr is 90-120.

    I noticed these numbers while on VLC (after a poor experience with keto & mood), and after reading about physiological insulin resistance, upped my carbs substantially. I experienced no change whatsoever (other than better energy and mood).

    I’ve continued to up my carbs for the last 3+ weeks, to the point that I’m now at about 150 – 300 grams /day (non-training / training). My numbers still haven’t moved. Also worth mentioning is that my sleep has suffered ever since I began low carb; it’s better now than while on VLC (less catecholamine-induced 3am awakenings, but still waking at 3am. The difference is I can more easily fall back asleep).

    Most posters on forums attribute my numbers to pre-diabetes – but that doesn’t make sense to me, considering that my blood glucose never gets too high, nor too low; I have no familial history; I’m very physically active; lean; and methodical about my diet.

    I differ from you in that I’m not getting bloated or gaining any fat mass from the addition of carbs.

    I see it took you ~4 weeks for your blood sugar to get back to your normal numbers. I’m curious of the following:

    •I asked a well-known PhD in the low-carb space about my condition, and he said that this is *not* physiological insulin resistance. He said in the case of physiological insulin resistance, it’s post-prandial #s that are off, but fasting numbers should be normal. That’s not what I understood from secondhand sources across the web, though. Do you have any scientific references that I can learn from and share with him (such as the mouse study that you refer to)?

    •Have you observed anything else in regards to your blood glucose since writing this article?

    •Was sleep ever an issue for you during this period?

    •Do you think training / overtraining could have been a factor? It contributes to cortisol, and cortisol raises blood sugar via gluconeogeneis…

    •Finally, I’m curious about your carb timing. Do you eat them throughout the day, backload, front load, etc.? How many are you up to at this point?

    Thanks so much for your help in restoring my sanity 😉

  29. Lesley says

    Hi there Sarah,
    I just saw on another page on the site, Rob mentioned that you had a really bad reaction to Prescript Assist. I’ve been looking at trying that and another one, Probiotic 3, as a way to increase carb tolerance and just overall food tolerance.
    Would you mind posting what your reaction was and if there was anything you discovered that made you susceptible to that reaction?
    There are so many ‘game changer’ stories out there but also some scary ones.
    Thanks in advance for your response.

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